In the world today there are six movements that are battling for the life of men. First of all there is communism, a view of life that seems to have had its day. The tentacles of this atheistic monster have been severed in many countries. Second, there is fundamentalism, which is an effort to revive some of the older beliefs, some of the older concepts, using nationalism as an organizing vehicle. The result is a rebirth of Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and in this country, some of the fundamentalist ideas from the turn of the century. Third, there is the human rights movement. This addresses the relatively new democratic concept of civil rights coupled with "extras," whereby persons are not only claimants to equal treatment under the law, but to every kind of concession and exemption from the consequences of their own actions.
Fourth, there is nationalism, which aggressively, even belligerently, promotes geographical independence and tends to advocate violent means to secure its goals. Fifth, there is secularism, whose God is technology. Sixth, and finally, there is scientism, which is the basis of research, often under the auspices of commercial interests, and tends to credit science with a magical and unlimited potential to solve all human problems and needs.
The surgence of these movements may, on the surface, suggest that some sort of revival of culture is taking place. But in the interior is decay, and at the core is great emptiness. And it is the Rosicrucian Way that has the information and vision that the world now so desperately needs to fill this emptiness. The world turns and returns in a large ascending circle of evolution, and each person who turns and evolves with it is a prodigal son. Yet so few know this fundamental fact. And they suffer accordingly. They bring to mind the teacher in Sunday School who was being very dramatic with her little charge, telling him the story of the Prodigal Son, saying, "You know, after this young man made his journey back home, the father was glad to see him. And he welcomed him. But who do you suppose was not glad to see this young man?" And the boy raised his hand and he asked "Was it the fatted calf?"
Nevertheless, in the midst of all of these movements and the turbulence they generate, there are some soft souls who say, "There has to be more to it than this." And then there are a few, a very few, souls, who, from across the centuries, hear the Voice of the Rose, and these people knock on the door of the Rosicrucian Fellowship and become students. They intensely and deeply desire to know. And that desire is gratified. They come to realize that to know their outward self is knowledge, but to know their soul is wisdom. Who can calculate the orbit of his soul?
The Bible says "Study to show thyself approved unto God. A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." And so the Student begins a life of visible service whose effect is also demonstrable. We see the difference between the uncalled person and the Student, because he begins to reach out to his brother in service. The Rosicrucian Fellowship has a gift for the Student. It says, "My child, here is a priceless gift for you. It is the Student's Prayer." This prayer is a mantram of great power. It is the perfect prayer for the Student. Listen to the words, the words that we should repeat daily the rest of our lives to our eternal benefit: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." Then at some time, in some life, we move on and we call ourselves a Probationer.
A Probationer is one who is on trial, someone who is preparing the self to be ensouled by the Christ. And as a Probationer, we assume the responsibility of being discriminating in our diet, our garment, and our lifestyle. Being a Probationer does not mean that we have shortcuts available to us. It simply means that we take a shorter time to accomplish the evolutionary journey.
Paul admonishes us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2).
The Voice of the Rose comes to us in even greater service. The parting words in the morning Chapel service are renewed in our hearts: "May we live a life of service today, that will bring us closer to God." From the evening service comes the prayer and reminder: "Tonight, while our bodies are peacefully resting in sleep, may we be found faithfully working in the vineyard of Christ." As a Probationer, we may become an Invisible Helper in Christ's vineyard.
And the Fellowship has another gift for the probationer. It says, "My child, here is the gift of Concentration." This is a mind exercise, and for those who perform it faithfully, the result is clairvoyance-the ability not only to see an object, but to see into and through it. When contact is made with the archetype of any form, its innermost nature becomes known as light and sound. As a probationer, we eventually are able to transcend the three-dimensional world, and enter that of the fourth dimension.
Then further on, at some time, in some life, we are able to call ourselves a Disciple. To the Disciple the Voice of the Rose speaks of purity, the ability to awaken and lift the divine spirit fire. Here we enter the Garden of Gethsemane. There are many lessons to learn, but the two foremost ones are humility and forgiveness. During the chemical explosion in Bhopal, Mother Theresa was standing, looking at the dying and the dead. When a TV announcer approached and asked her if she had anything to say, those who were listening will never forget the spine-tingling feeling when they heard her say one word, "Forgive." What a noble gesture. How it raised the spirit. Yet, the thought came to me, how quickly would I be able to respond in this Christ-like way? How would I deal with those who do me harm? I had to think through the one word of this noble lady. I came to the conclusion that in order to forgive, we have to deal with life itself. We have to forgive with our whole being. First, we have to identify and acknowledge the hurt. This is the use of mind. Second, we cannot bottle up any of the feelings of the hurt. This is the emotion. Third, we have to express these feelings in some manner. This is the body. Fourth, we have to forgive from the heart. This is spirit. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is important for us to remember our lessons and learn from them so we may properly respond to future hurts. Christ's words are ever our exalted example: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The Fellowship has a gift for the Disciple. It says, "My child, here is the gift of Retrospection." This is the gift for the evolving of soul. The is the great peace-giver-the peace that passeth all understanding. Retrospection is science applied to the spiritual. It was originated by the Elder Brothers to develop the latent soul power of wisdom. So we see that the Fellowship fosters the Student for preparation, the Probationer for purification, and the Disciple for perfection.
Beyond the Garden lies the Cross of the Initiate, the Resurrection of the Adept, and the Ascension of the Master. The Voice of the Rose calls us to this Way. To move along the Path, we need to work on the nine Lesser Mysteries, which are called the Lunar Mysteries. The seven centers of the sympathetic nervous system become the roses on the cross. We learn to pull the nails in the hands, the feet, the liver, the pituitary body, and the pineal gland. The result of this work is extrasensory perception or ESP.
At the completion of this work we begin on the Greater Mysteries, of which there are four. These are called the Solar Mysteries. We work on the five centers of the cerebral spinal nervous system, and pull the nails of the sex organs, the heart, the larynx, and the knee. Did you ever wonder why there has never been a picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was not depicted on His knees? Learning the meaning of spiritual development as it pertains to the knees is a very important step along the way. The result of this work is Christ-consciousness, polarity, the ability to speak the Word, and the ability to do astral or out-of-thebody traveling.
The Fellowship looks at you and says "My child, there is one more special gift that we have for you. It is this jewel of a Chapel." The two pictures on this west wall indicate the three initial steps of the Rosicrucian Way: for the Student, the Probationer, and the Disciple. It may appear that these pictures were put here by accident, but this is not so. The picture on the left shows the boy Jesus in the Temple. The original measures 60 inches x 80 inches It was painted by Heinrich Hoffman in 1882, and only the head shows here. The rest of the picture shows five scholars grouped around the boy. This is considered one of the five greatest paintings in the world. The boy Jesus has finished his studentship. He is able to go to the Temple and spread the teachings. From the time of this picture he faces eighteen years of Probationership. His eyes are fixed upon the upper world. His soul body is pictured by the aura, which is a star of light, the result of his period of Studentship.
The eighteen years of Probationership are the hidden years, the silent years. Those who can access the memory of nature can read what happened. Many legends tell us of a young man in Egypt, in India, in China, spreading the coming of the New Age and learning how to heal. When He returned at the age of 30, he was baptized by John, and He became a Disciple. He was son and servant to the Father. His mission was to spread the teachings and to heal the sick. For our legacy, he left the Garden of Gethsemane, where we too must kneel in prayer. Not for self, but for a world vision, such as we hear in the Voice of the Rose.
These pictures have tremendous meaning for us. As we come into the Chapel, they should speak to our heart. Everything that we need to know along the Rosicrucian Way is between these two pictures. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow left us with a beautiful thought:
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream,
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not ehat they seem.
Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returneth,
Was not spoken of the soul....
In the world's great field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle.
Be a hero in the strife.
Trust no future howe'er pleasant.
Let the dead part bury its dead.
Act--act in the living present,
Heart within, and God o'erhead.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our life sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time--
Footprints that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing may take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
We have heard the Voice of the Rose. Now is the time to go out and live it.
--Rays from the Rose Cross Magazine, January/February, 1996